Though details are sparse, the Iranian defense ministry is claiming today that it has successfully launched a capsule containing a live monkey into space atop a rocket. The capsule was later successfully recovered "intact" on the ground and the monkey, according to the report, is safe.
Iran is, if the news proves true, following in the footsteps of the U.S., which successfully flew several monkeys into space--Albert II was the first to survive the flight beyond the atmosphere in 1949 (though he died when the capsule impacted the ground). Iran has been continually developing its space rocket program over the years--including flying other "creatures." This has been to the discomfort of many who note that the technology needed to propel a capsule into space is equivalent to Intercontinental Ballistic Missile systems. Launching and retrieving a monkey would represent a huge technological leap, and may be an attempt to demonstrate the space program has peaceful goals.
[Image of Enos, astronaut-chimp: NASA]